It needed to be ...
Easy to access.
Simple in design, yet pragmatic.
There have been very few competitors in this race. The ones that looked good were typically $180 and up (which I would pay), and attainable only/primarily online (because of my location in Canada). The latter is an issue because I would have to make the purchase with one major assumption: comfort.
I stumbled across the SealLine Urban Backpack.
I am really impressed.
Mine is the small. Apparently the larger version makes a shoulder check difficult.
It's bright (several colours to choose from), and has a couple of reflective strips.
A basic strap system that is not cumbersome or cluttered. There is a waist strap, which I also wanted so that load is stabilized.
Here are my three "unknowns" for the time being. The material feels very stiff and solid but will it stay that way, and more importantly, will it resist ripping at the stitching under a full-load?
The snap or closing mechanism is unconvincing. We'll have to see how this ultimately performs.
The rear zippered compartment doesn't appear too use-able. I have put my wallet in there but anything bigger looks to threaten the glued seam. I'll likely leave this compartment alone for the most.
Nothing fancy inside, but that's what I was after.
Decent capacity for a "small" bag. I believe its 17 litres but it seems to hold a lot more than advertised.
This was the last one they had at Bushtukah and I did not get it right away. I went home and researched it and checked the reviews. Then I panicked because I found the pack to be very difficult to get - seems to be very little stock out there.
Suffice it to say that I was able to finally make the purchase. I've only been using it for two weeks, so this does not portend to be a review. I'm just saying that I believe I've found something that works well for me.